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Understanding Theological Perspectives

One of the challenges facing the Church is the division among believers.  The Church continues to divide itself along both doctrinal and theological lines as it seeks to be “right.”  Although I am in favor of seeking to be faithful in our call to follow Christ, I pray for unity instead of division.  We are called to be one Church under our Lord and Savior.

A pastor friend shared this chart with me about a year ago; it shows the primary distinctions of the Christian faith.  Most denominations and Christian movements fall into one of these three categories or they fall in the cracks between them.  Liturgical churches are our Catholic, Episcopal, and Anglican brothers and sisters.  Evangelical churches represent folks like our Baptist friends and charismatic churches are folks like the Assembly of God church.

Liturgical

Evangelical

Charismatic

Sacraments

Doctrines

Experiences

Priest

Rabbi

Prophets

Temple

Synagogue

Free Assembly

Past

Present

Future

Father

Son

Holy Spirit

What I like about this table is that it helps us identify ourselves and what we tend to focus on and allows us to see where other people come from.  For us to truly be the Church, we need to have a balance of all these things which is why we need each other.

The liturgical churches focus on the sacraments brings a mystery to our faith, because try as we might truly understand the grace that takes place in communion and Baptism is impossible. Liturgical churches value the ritual and the power of the mystery.  Therefore, the priest becomes the Biblical representative as the one who performs the rituals.  The Temple becomes the place of worship where the people gather to participate in the mystery.  The liturgical church is more focused on the past – apostolic line of leaders, the rituals of the church, etc.  The Father is the form of the Trinity that is most prevalent, because the Father is mysterious.

The evangelical church focuses on the doctrines of the church focus on the interpretation of the law and the teaching of the disciplines of the faith.  Evangelical church is concerned with making disciples of Jesus Christ.  The Rabbi – teacher – becomes the Biblical representative teaching the people in the Synagogue or place of learning – which today is the church.  They are focused on the present – is Jesus your Lord and Savior.  The Son becomes the form of the Trinity because Jesus is presence with us.

The charismatic church tends to focus on the experience.  Lively worship, listening for God, healing, and prophesying are all important components to their expression.  The prophets are a good biblical representative of their faith expression.  Followers gather to worship and experience God’s ever-present nature of the Holy Spirit.  The prophetic emphasis of the charismatic church focuses on the future reality of God.

Some of our denominations fall neatly into one of these categories and others fall in-between.  I believe the traditional United Methodist Church falls in-between the liturgical and the evangelical church; but many United Methodist Church’s especially the new church plants fall in-between the evangelical church and the charismatic church.

I have found this chart to help folks understand the different perspectives of our Church.  One Church under Jesus Christ seen through a multitude of perspectives providing a beautiful image of the Kingdom of God is our call.

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  1. May 3, 2014 at 6:39 am

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